Harmony Remote a One-for-all Wonder

They might be called universal remotes but not all of these couch potato gizmos are the same.

A single universal remote control can be used to operate all of the components in a home theatre set-up, even if each is a different brand, from the TV and DVD or Blu-ray player to the audio/video receiver, CD player and digital TV receiver.

The trick is choosing the one that not only best meets your needs but also is the simplest and most intuitive to use.

At $549, Logitech’s Harmony One costs more than most and isn’t without quirks but it’s more ergonomic, lighter to handle and comes with a cradle that charges the remote, eliminating the need for batteries.

It’s also easy to set up — despite requiring the installation of a software CD in your PC or Mac and going online to create an account and download the codes for the brands you want to operate.

But this is a relatively simple exercise that pays off in the remote being customised for your needs with minimal effort.

HarmonyOne

As with any computer-centric device, however, installation and operation can be flaky. But Logitech provides excellent online and telephone support that extends even to programming your Harmony One remotely if necessary.

The Harmony One can be set up to operate 15 devices, many of them simultaneously. It combines a colourful LCD touchscreen with a keypad to maximise functionality, although the execution isn’t always foolproof.

However, if the remote does fail to trigger every device when an “Activity”, like “Watch TV” or “Watch a DVD”, is selected, pushing the “Help” option invariably rectifies it.

Another downside is it’s easy to press the wrong command on the comprehensive LCD screen because of its smooth surface and tightly grouped options, particularly if you’re accessing the menus of a specific device.

These are minor quibbles, however, given the Harmony One’s customisation strengths, exceptionally comfortable grip and excellent after-sales support.

Of course, you can opt for cheaper remotes or those capable of home automation that cost more than twice as much.

But the lower down the scale you go, the more you compromise proficiency.

Cheaper models won’t programme as many devices or have LCD screens. They won’t have macro programming — the ability to turn on several components at the same time, such as a Blu-ray player, TV and a/v receiver — and will require codes to be manually selected or, even more tediously, entered separately.

They also won’t have the build or comfort quality of costlier remotes, and probably won’t be as intuitive or reliable to use.

That said, even the more magical wands, like the Harmony One, can perform erratically and may require several steps more to achieve the same result as one of the remotes it replaces.

In short, the most reliable remote of all probably will be the one the manufacturer supplied with the component.

But such is the ease and convenience of using a superior universal remote, compared to juggling several, that the rest will be left to gather dust.

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2 Responses to “Harmony Remote a One-for-all Wonder”

  1. Who stocks the Harmony One … The usual suspects? Cheers.

  2. Yes, a wide range of online and chain store retailers do stock it. But it pays to shop around — prices range from the quoted $549 at Noel Leeming and Bond & Bond to less than half that at the likes of TigerDirect and NotebookCity.

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